Top-seeded Novak Djokovic saved four match points to set up a French Open semifinal against Roger Federer, the 16-time Grand Slam champion who came back from two sets down to win.
Djokovic of Serbia beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 today in a quarterfinal played in drizzle on the main Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros in Paris.
“He was the better player for most of the match, I don’t know how I came back from four match points down,” Djokovic said in a televised interview.
Federer, the No. 3 seed from Switzerland, beat Juan Martin del Potro, the ninth seed from Argentina, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the second showcourt.
Djokovic, a 25-year-old Serb, is trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four major in a row. He was up a set and break when the match turned.
It turned again in the fourth set, when Djokovic, serving to stay in the match, saved two match points at 4-5 and two more at 5-6.
One hour later, he clenched his fists as a victor, finishing with a backhand winner after 4 hours, 9 minutes.
“I was so close,” Tsonga said in a televised interview. “But I had nothing left in my legs.”
Djokovic, who came back from two sets down in his previous round against Italy’s Andreas Seppi, has never reached the Paris final. He is trying to win his fourth straight major title to complete a non-calendar Grand Slam. The last man to hold all four titles simultaneously is Laver, an Australian who swept them in 1969 and 1962. Laver and American Don Budge in 1938 are the only men to win all four in one calendar year.
Federer came back to beat Del Potro and advance to the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the 31st time. He beat Djokovic at the same stage last year, ending a 43-match win streak.
Today’s match lasted just under 3 1/2 hours and ended about the time Djokovic was forcing the fourth-set tiebreak. It was the first time Federer had come back from two sets down since the first round of Wimbledon in 2010, and raised his five-set record to 19-16.
Federer matched Jimmy Connors for the most Grand Slam semifinal spots, and tied Andre Agassi for second in major quarterfinal appearances with 36, behind Connors’s 41.
U.S. Open women’s champion Samantha Stosur beat Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-1 to set up a semifinal against Sara Errani. The Italian moved to her first major semifinal by defeating Angelique Kerber, the No. 10 seed from Germany, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).
Stosur, 28, became the first Australian woman in 31 years to win a major singles title when she beat Serena Williams in last year’s U.S. Open final. She reached the title match of the French Open in 2010, losing to Italy’s Francesca Schiavone.
“I woke up feeling good this morning and had a good warmup,” Stosur said in a news conference. “I guess that just kind of transferred onto the match court and really did what I wanted to do quite well.”
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